Let’s say that part of your lead generation approach is searching and collecting contact data from for sale by owner websites.
If you do this day by day, it can become a drag and consume a lot of time.
And if you researched on the web how to automate this task, you might have come across the term “web scraping.”
So, you might wonder what scraping is in real estate.
It is the automated process that researches one or more particular websites for you, extracts data, and re-organizes it in a fashion that you can use for another purpose.
Especially in real estate marketing, web scraping can help you generate leads by extracting contact information from particular pages.
In this article, I will discuss more in-depth what web scraping is, examples of web scraping in real estate, challenges that web scrapers have to deal with, the general benefits of web scraping, and four providers that offer web scraping solutions.
What Is Web Scraping?
In a sense, you can consider web scraping an automated process that does the research part for specific data on particular websites for you.
It is a kind of digital assistant that extracts specific data from websites for you and then displays it in an organized manner.
The process usually goes like this:
1) You go to the respective web scraper and define what websites need to be visited and what type of data needs to be extracted.
2) The program or script executes and visits the websites and extracts the relevant data.
3) The extracted data is stored.
4) The stored data is displayed in an organized manner, which can be on the results page of the respective scraper program.
In this context, additional options are possible, such as sending the organized data to your inbox or adding it to third-party software, such as customer relationship management software for potential real estate leads.
So, in general, a web scraper extracts certain data from a website to use it for another purpose somewhere else.
Examples of Web Scraping in Real Estate
There are many different use cases for web scraping in Real Estate, and, most interesting to me, there are also a bunch in real estate marketing.
You can use web scraping to extract data that will give you additional information about real estate market trends, pricing trends, or competitors.
Another use case is monitoring vacancy rates, estimating rental yields, and appraising property value.
You could have a web scraper to scrape real estate listing data from a partner agency to list certain properties on your website.
This might be necessary when an internal solution, such as, for example, an IDX integration, is not a viable option.
The last one that comes to mind, which is of my highest interest, is using web scraping for real estate lead generation.
For real estate pros, the following web scraper use cases in the context of lead generation could be helpful:
- Scraping contact data from sellers of for sale by owner websites.
- Scraping contact data from potential investors of rental property listing websites.
- Scraping contact data from sellers on listing portals with expired listings.
- Scraping the contact data from potential realtor partners for co-brokerage opportunities in other regions.
- Scraping contact data from potential sellers of commercial real estate by using Google Maps.
- Scraping contact data from certain courthouses to extract contact data from potentially motivated sellers.
In terms of displaying and presenting the extracted data for lead generation, basically, the sky’s the limit.
The algorithm used could, for example, also include your monthly revenue goals and the output of the number of leads you would need to contact per day to reach these goals based on current conversion rates depending on the medium you use to contact them.
Challenges of WebScrapers in Real Estate (But Not Limited to It)
Some websites, such as Craigslist, use methods that prevent web scraping. They, for example, disallow bots from crawling.
In these cases, the respective web scraper needs to be a bit more sophisticated and be able to simulate human browsing.
Another challenge can be if the webpage to be scraped has a changeable and complicated web page structure.
So, you can’t build just one scraper for many different websites; you will usually need to build one scraper for each.
Another issue is IP blocking. The IP of the web scraper is blocked when the to-be-scraped website receives too many requests in a certain amount of time.
Therefore, the scraper might need to use an IP proxy solution.
The next one is, of course, the famous CAPTCHA. You know the question you sometimes see when using a form that asks you if you are human.
Most web scrapers can’t circumvent this just yet.
Some scrapers stop then, and manual CAPTCHA input from the user (you) is necessary before they can continue.
Then there are also so-called honeypot traps. Sounds sweet, but it’s not that sweet for less sophisticated scrapers.
A honeypot trap is a trap that is implemented on the to-be-scraped website to catch a scraper.
It usually involves some links invisible to humans but visible to scrapers.
When the scraper catches them, the website starts to block the scraper.
There are a few more challenges scraper developers need to consider for a well-working scraper.
But you can see that having a well-working script in this context is not necessarily an easy endeavor.
The Benefits of Web Scraping
Web scraping, in general, and thus also for real estate, has many advantages.
I consider the two major benefits of web scraping for real estate saving time and saving costs.
Let’s use the case of finding seller contact information on different property listing websites.
Without a scraper, you or your assistant would have to spend hours on the different property listing websites and copy and paste contact information, maybe in an Excel sheet.
With a great web scraper, you won’t need to invest this time or your money (in the case of an assistant) to get this contact information.
Provided it is working well, you could wake up each morning to a new batch of potential leads in your inbox or in your customer relationship management software that was added automatically by the respective scraper.
Regarding strategic decision-making in real estate marketing, a scraper could also look for current marketing key performance indicators of different online marketing channels and generate statistics.
Based on these statistics, you could decide which marketing channel to focus on next.
6 Web Scraping Tools You Could Also Use for Real Estate
One scraper specializing in property listings that helps you find real estate deals is, for example, Dealmachine.
During my research, I found out that most scrapers on the market have a rather generic approach but can be tailored to real estate use cases.
What does this mean?
Although you won’t have to develop your own real estate web scraper, you will still need some tech affinity to adapt and tailor the different software solutions to your individual needs as a realtor or as another real estate pro.
Below I collected four scrapers for you that can also be used for or tailored to real estate needs.
ParseHub presents itself as a scraper tool for every need. Their main features include the following:
- Scraping new sales leads from directories, communities, and social media
- An API to build mobile and web apps
- Aggregation of data from different websites into one platform
- Extracting products and prices from online retailers (e-commerce)
- Scheduled runs
- Automatic IP rotation
- Text, HTML, and attributes can be extracted
- Images/files download
- Data extraction behind a login page
- Downloadable CSV and JSON files
- Dropbox integration
- Data extractable from tables and maps
- Browser-based, graphic interface
ParseHub has four different pricing plans.
The free plan allows you to scrape 200 pages but doesn’t have any IP rotation or scheduling functionality.
The ones that do have this functionality are the paid plans that are between $149 and $499 per month.
You can learn more about the company here.
DataOX is a data service powered by scraping software rather than the software you could use on your desktop or as a web application.
They call themselves a web scraping and data aggregation service and provide this service in the following areas:
- Flight monitoring
- Job posts
- Brand monitoring
- Real estate
- Lead generation
- Machine learning
- Price monitoring
- Review scraping
- Document scraping
- URL scraping
- Data scraping for e-commerce
- Amazon scraping
- Ali Express scraping
- Social media
- Public sources
- Google trends
- Financial data
- Sports data
Their pricing plans are both on a per-delivery basis and monthly.
For a one-time data delivery, you pay $300; if you need scraping data every month, prices start at $250.
You can learn more about DataOx here.
DataHut is another data extraction or web scraping service provider. Their focus is on customized solutions according to your needs.
So, it’s not a scraping software focused on certain areas and websites to extract data from, but according to what you need to scrape, they tailor a scraping solution for you.
DataHut has a three-tier pricing plan.
It starts with the personal plan for $40 per month per website, and you get up to 10,000 records per month and a weekly or monthly crawling frequency.
The next one is the monthly business plan for $100 per website. This plan gives you 100,000 monthly records and a daily, weekly, or monthly crawling frequency.
No pricing information was available for 100% tailored solutions since this depends on your individual needs and the scope of work that would need to be done.
You can learn more about DataHut here.
WebScrapingApi is more a customizable scraping software than a scraping service.
This means more involvement on your behalf would be necessary to make the right configuration of the tool, so it does what you want.
But it would also require slightly more tech affinity.
WebScrapingApi’s scraping software is developed to manage all sorts of possible blocking points (e.g., proxies or CAPTCHAs).
You can customize requests by modifying IP geolocation, headers, and more.
Regarding pricing, the software company offers a free plan with 5,000 API calls.
The “Grow” plan costs $90 monthly and includes 1,000,000 API calls.
You can learn more about WebScrapingApi here.
Scrapeak is a scraping software provider I came across just recently.
What stands out is that it focuses more on real estate scraping needs and is less generic.
The scraper tools can be used in three different real estate areas.
The first tool is called Zillow Scraper and does what it says, scraping property data from Zillow.
The second one, “Deeds Scraper,” helps you extract property addresses, selling prices, and sales dates. All the data you can export to an Excel file.
And lastly, the “Pre-Foreclosure Scraper” is also self-explaining. It helps you find pre-foreclosure property data and can access more than 10 million records.
Scrapeak pricing starts at $0 per month with 1,000 credits and can go up to $1,000 per month with unlimited credits.
Here, you can learn more about the software provider.
Also, recently I came across another scraping software called Scrapingdog.
They promise the highest success rate and the fastest scraping API, which can handle many simultaneous requests.
Some of the use cases Scrapingdog provides are…
- Classical web scraping extracting data, for example, from Zillow
- Price monitoring from real estate, e-commerce websites, and more.
- Scraping any Google page
- Scraping of more than 1 million person and company profiles on LinkedIn
Pricing starts at $30 monthly (the Lite plan) with 200,000 request credits up to $500+ monthly with 8,000,000 request credits.
Here, you can learn more about Scrapingdog.
Since I have a bit of a coding and web development background, I could understand what most of the scraping solution providers have to offer.
But I doubt that the average real estate professional with less or no technical background would understand most of the rather general solutions on the market.
By being rather generic, these solutions often require more assistance and tailoring on behalf of the provider, which, in turn, would likely mean higher costs for you.
Additionally, these are often solutions where web developers can program on top of their existing coding base and application programming interface (API).
The only solution I found so far that is more tailored to real estate use cases is the Scrapeak.
I do not doubt that web scraping can give you a nice edge in your real estate business regarding lead generation and other processes where usually repetitive tasks and a certain time investment are involved in gathering and organizing data from the web.
However, I wish I had found multiple niched-down solutions tailored for realtors and other real estate professionals.
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